The following appeared a few days ago in the US.
Posted: February 23, 2011 - 11:00 am ET
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called on members of the health information technology community to stay the course with healthcare reform and the government's meaningful-use health information technology incentive program while outgoing ONC head Dr. David Blumenthal delivered his swan song as the two delivered back-to-back keynote speeches Wednesday at the HIMSS convention in Orlando, Fla.
Sebelius said that despite “lots of disagreement” in Congress on budget deficits and other matters, health information technology “is one of those issues where Democrats and Republicans stand together.”
The Obama administration also remains firmly supportive, she said.
“We believe in health IT because it's an investment in a stronger economy” and understand its “huge job-creating potential,” Sebelius said.
“There is no doubt we're in a very tough budget environment,” she said, noting the Obama administration has proposed hundreds of billions of dollars in budget cuts. But the administration also realizes “it's equally important to keep the investments that will keep our economy growing” and to improve the health of the nation. The Obama budget includes a 25% increase to run the ONC, she said.
“Close to a third of our healthcare spending, about $700 billion a year, goes to pay for healthcare that doesn't benefit anyone's health,” she said. “We need you to be a part of the conversation to improve health in the country. Healthcare reform needs IT, but health IT needs healthcare reform,” she said. “We need you to be more than advocates for the technology. We need you to be advocates for the healthcare system that makes these systems have the most impact.”
Sebelius also asked HIMSS members to “work harder” to close the digital divides between large urban and small rural healthcare providers and assist those serving racial minorities. Perhaps in a veiled response to those in the IT community calling for an extension of the timeline before more stringent meaningful-use criteria must be met to qualify for federal EHR incentive payments, Sebelius asked, rhetorically, “The question remains, how long will we have to wait before we enjoy the benefits of that technology?”
The answer, she said, “depends how aggressively we push. We can make more progress on health IT in the nation in the next five years than we have in the last 50.”
“Work with us,” she said. “We've come this far together and now we need to finish this very important job.”
As I have often said strong political commitment is just one piece of the puzzle. You need a clear and publicly communicated plan, leadership, professional buy in, incentives and appropriate governance structures. Of course you need technology, standards and skills but that flows once the main issues are addressed.
The US is really moving ahead in some considerable leaps and bounds.
It is this sort of activity that gives me a sense we will see dramatic progress over the next 2-3 years.
February 19, 2011 | Bernie Monegain, Editor
ORLANDO, FL –
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology announced Sunday at HIMSS11 the launch of an industry project to consolidate and harmonize required health information exchange specifications that support meaningful use of electronic health record systems.
The project, called the “HL7/IHE Health Story Implementation Guide Consolidation Project,” is a collaboration of Health Level Seven (HL7) International, Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) and the Health Story Project.
Working through the HL7 standards development organization, volunteers will consolidate exchange standards for eight common types of clinical documents along with the HL7 Continuity of Care Document (CCD) standard into one comprehensive implementation package that establishes a foundation for health information exchange.
Through the consolidation and harmonization effort, the project will address minor areas of ambiguity within the specific Standards Final Rule requirement to implement HL7 Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) Release 2, Continuity of Care Document according to HITSP C32.
ONC’s Office of Standards and Interoperability (S&I) will host the volunteer effort within its S&I Framework and facilitate the project through HL7 and IHE with support of its contractors.
"This is the perfect opportunity to leverage the S&I Framework to convene stakeholders that are engaged in the standards harmonization process," said Doug Fridsma, MD, director of the Office of S&I. "This important initiative will help the country move one step closer to achieving simple, standards-based nationwide interoperability."
These specs would seem to have some considerable use in Australia as well. Pity we don’t hear more from NEHTA about how they are taking this material on board when relevant.